'Rowan Atkinson Live!'
(Rowan Atkinson, Angus Deayton, et al / DVD / NR / (1991) 2007 / A&E HOME VIDEO)
Overview: Rowan Atkinson and Angus Deayton in Boston doing a live performance of the same styles of humor we've seen in Mr. Bean and Blackadder. Included are lessons on Shakespearean acting, a school headmaster meeting with the father of a boy he's beaten to death, and tips for having a successful date.
DVD Verdict: Filmed on a Boston stage in 1991, this concert film features the British comic in selected sketches from 10 years of performing and creating characters. Fans of The Thin Blue Line, in which Atkinson plays a British policeman, will be pleased, but Mr. Bean enthusiasts will be ecstatic with the handful of great Bean moments re-created for a live audience.
Not to be too confusing about the whole thing, but this edition contains the US version, which ends with the drum skit which is not in the UK version, But the DVD also contains as Bonus Features the skits that were in the UK version but not on the US. So it's the best of both worlds!
I'd seen the US version long ago on television, then managed to aquire a copy of the UK version, not knowing they were different, and I've thought I've been dreaming the drum skit all this time. It's nice to finally have everything in a nice DVD presentation. This is one of my favorite comedy DVDs.
Introuduced behind-the-hectic-scenes by a getting-ready Rowan Atkinson, the skits come fast and furious. But, my favorite has to be the one entitled 'A Warm Welcome' where Atkinson (as the Devil) welcomes one and all to his humble dwellings! Mind you, 'Fatal Beatings' is a belter also!
However, a genuine concern for non-Britons is whether they'll really understand the humor. On this score, Atkinson triumphs again, because he's deliberately chosen universal events to build his sketches around. Of the bits on offer, only two might wade in unfamiliar waters. One centers around the nature of being a headmaster at a British public (private) school (the aforementioned 'Fatal Beatings'!), and the other deals with the difficulty of staying awake during a church service and may not be fully funny to non-Christians.
These possible difficulties aside, Atkinson is far easier to add to your video collection than most comedians, because he deliberately avoids topical humor. Instead, he crafts timeless sketches that will be just as funny 50 years from now as they are today. This is a real treat for the Atkinson faithful. This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Bonus Sketches: "Elementay Dating," "Guys after the Game," and "Tom, Dick and Harry"
Rowan Atkinson Biography and Filmography